Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," offering the opinions of a certified nobody since 2005! I'm that nobody, and it's all good. I roll with it. Every now and then I'm asked to throw on the "somebody suit" for a few days, and it still fits. It has never gotten a whole lot of wear.
Jason over at The Wild Hunt has a post up today about the commencement of the World Congress of Ethnic Religions. Of course this is a wonderful, terrific get-together, sponsored in spirit by the entire staff here at "The Gods Are Bored."
It's just that name. World Congress of Ethnic Religions.
The word "ethnic" is a freighted term. It suggests a community that is insular due to some set of circumstances. In this case it ennobles the "ethnic" religions in question, but it also (no doubt unintentionally) suggests that those religions belong to their praise and worship teams, and no one else. One of the comments on Jason's post, perhaps not surprisingly, declared, "Heathen proselytism needs to be an oxymoron."
For those of you not up on your Language Arts terminology, the comment might say, "Heathens shouldn't promote their religion outside their narrow ethnic boundaries."
The fact that the large, monotheistic religions have proselytized relentlessly -- and by doing so have earned enmity in some cases -- does not suppose that "ethnic" religions cannot also attract new members to their praise and worship teams. Are we to throw up our hands and say, "Okay, if you want to be a Heathen, you have to prove through DNA extraction that your ancestors were Nordic?"
If the busy god is blind to ethnicity, then the bored gods had better be blind to it too. Otherwise, in our increasingly pluralistic world, it will become more and more difficult to sustain "ethnic" religions, no matter how badly we want and need them.
Bored deities cannot afford to have the badge of a certain ethnicity slapped onto them. I'm sure some will disagree with me, pointing out that people should know as much as they can about their ethnic heritages, and that religion is a big part of that. I would counter that religion must be the part of that heritage that you are willing to share with anyone, of any stripe, who wants to explore your praise and worship team and get to know your deities.
Would you rather your religion be run like a country club or a free outdoor rock concert? The busy god opted for the latter, and look what it's gotten Him. Time to push back a little.
World Congress of Ethnic Religions? Rings hollow. How about World Congress of Essential Religions?
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